Town hall focuses on C3I and anniversary celebrations
Around 70 members of the Dartmouth community crowded into Spaulding Auditorium on Jan. 16 for the quarterly town hall meeting. Executive vice president Rick Mills led the discussion, which focused on the new Campus Climate and Culture Initiative — or C3I — and the College’s 250th anniversary celebrations. The next town hall will be held on Mar. 27 and will cover the College’s plan to build a new biomass power plant and the expansion of graduate housing in Lebanon. The 250th celebration co-chairs — Vice President for Alumni Relations Cheryl Bascomb ’82 and English professor Donald Pease — and Title IX coordinator Kristi Clemens joined him to address items on the agenda.
Clemens opened with a discussion of the initiative, a set of actions aimed at “creating a learning environment free from sexual harassment and the abuse of power,” according to the College’s official press release. The College announced the launch of the initiative on Jan. 3.
The initiative does not introduce wholly new procedures, according to Clemens. Rather, it combines pre-existing rules into one comprehensive policy.
“It was very clear that we needed to have one policy to rule them all, rather than having the consensual relationships policy over here and the staff policies over here,” Clemens said during the town hall meeting.
During the town hall, Clemens also discussed the new Title IX sexual violence prevention course, which is mandatory for all Dartmouth faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholars. The online course, called “Bridges: Building a Supportive Community,” is provided by EverFi, a digital institutional training firm that Dartmouth has utilized since 2002. Dartmouth undergraduates’ sexual violence prevention training module is provided by the same service.
Clemens said that out of the 6,600 people expected to participate in the course, 21 percent have already completed the training.
“I think it really demonstrates that our community is committed to supporting members, to stopping inappropriate behavior and to becoming more well-informed,” Clemens said.
All faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholars must complete the interactive module by Mar. 13, according to Clemens.
Mills said the initiative unites the Moving Dartmouth Forward and Inclusive Excellence initiatives as a three-pillar effort. He reiterated that the new plan has as its foundation a report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which explores the ramifications of sexual harassment in learning environments.
The institutionalization of this new policy reflects a national trend, Mills said in an interview with The Dartmouth after the meeting.
“There is heightened awareness for situations that have persisted far too long — not just at the College, but in our society,” he said.
Clemens closed her presentation with remarks about the Title IX office’s responsibilities. She emphasized the wide variety of services the office can provide, most of which do not involve an investigation.
Bascomb and Pease followed Clemens’ talk with a discussion of the College’s sestercentennial celebrations.
“This is about celebrating an enduring institution, but we’re not looking at just our history,” Bascomb said. “We’re asking how our history informs where we are today and how it inspires where we will be in the future.”
Pease added that the College’s infrastructure “places the liberal arts at the fore.”
“The rubric for the 250th celebration is honoring the past [and] inspiring the future, which can be understood as the deepest interaction between a faculty member and a student, or the most profound of interactions between administrators and the stuff of this institution,” he said.
The programming includes a year-long portfolio of events, academic and service initiatives and celebrations, according to Bascomb. Among these initiatives, the Call to Serve honors Dartmouth’s legacy of leadership in public service, she said. The project calls on Dartmouth students, alumni, faculty and staff to contribute a collective 250,000 service hours this year.
Bascomb also showed pictures from the College’s Jan. 12 “Greenlighting Day,” during which 13 notable landmarks were lit up in green, including the Empire State Building and Niagara Falls.
Pease discussed plans to re-argue Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, or the landmark “Dartmouth case,” on Jan. 31 in Washington, D.C. The famous Supreme Court case allowed Dartmouth to maintain its status as a privately-funded institution. Former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal ’91 will assume Daniel Webster’s role and argue the case before Chief Justice John G. Roberts. Greg Garre ’87 will assume the role of former secretary of the College William Woodward.
“If the Dartmouth College case had not been decided as it was in 1819, the Dartmouth as we know it would not exist,” Pease said. “Daniel Webster honored a past in order to perform an action that we’re still dreaming into our present.”
On March 1-2, Garre and Katyal will argue the case again before a judicial body comprised of Dartmouth alumni. The two-day conference will also feature presentations by constitutional lawyers and paper presentations by students currently enrolled in College Courses 24, “Daniel Webster and the Dartmouth College Case.”
In an interview with The Dartmouth, Mills said he felt these various initiatives included in the 250th anniversary celebrations capture the College’s mission heading into its next 250 years.
“Dartmouth could not have stayed for 250 years without adapting and changing over time,” he said. “The obligation is to keep those things from the past which are worth keeping, but to look ahead and change.”
Mills concluded the meeting by briefing routine updates, including the re-opening of the Hood Museum and the construction of the new Thayer and computer science facility.
No audience members raised questions at the event.